Category Archives: Feminism

“…oh, I wish you’d wear a dress!”

This past Wednesday, I went on a night out with my work colleagues. We don’t all get to see each other very often, since most people work in different parts of the country, and fairly typically it ended out as a drunken, raucous gathering of 30-odd bloody lovely people having a bloody lovely evening.

However – both in the corporate environment that I work in, and the town centre on a Wednesday night – I don’t really blend in very well.

What happened throughout that evening (and has been happening since I was in charge of picking my own clothes if I’m honest), is that I had series of conversations with different people all about why I don’t dress up more – because I’d look really nice in XYZ outfit, because I have such a nice figure, etc. etc.

And I totally get it; I am a scruffy mess and that is not what the majority of people aim for. Any clothes that I put on immediately look like I have slept in them. You know what? I kinda like that.

I have a gleeful pride in how little time it takes me to get ready to leave the house, how small my wardrobe is, how few pairs of shoes I own, and how long it’s been since I last ironed anything. I think it would be fair to say that a significant part of that is a joyous rejection of gender-based expectations of how I am going to present myself – which in turn has it’s roots in the fact that I really struggle to care.

The last time I was interested in a fashionable item of clothing, it was a layered denim and black lace skirt. It was 1987. I was 9 and I was in love with Jon Bon Jovi, incidentally. On top of not really seeing anything which I am supposed to like that has appealed for the best part of 30 years, my natural inclination in everything is to expend as little energy as possible – which includes my appearance. When I was maybe 14, possibly 13, I had my hair cut short. It used to take me ages to manhandle it into shape in the mornings – because I didn’t understand that my hair was in fact curly. As soon as I realised that was the problem, I just let it run free and do whatever the hell it was inclined to do. That was the last time I made any concerted effort in my appearance, and I have never looked back.

Happy happy joy joy

Zero fucks given.

There was a period of time after I left my horrible mistake of a marriage where I rushed back to the loving embrace of my metal roots, to get back in touch with who I was. I adopted a goth uniform of sorts, which was pretty much all I wore for about 3 years; black skirt, stripey socks, black mesh long-sleeved shirt with a slogan t-shirt over the top, black New Rock boots.

Download 2004

“…Look Busy.”

It was simple, lightweight, easy to pack, and quick to put on. I wore that until I bought my first pair of Criminal Damage baggy black jeans (or, my goat-smuggling trousers, as dubbed by my best mate) and then that became my new uniform. That tends to be my pattern; find something I like, then wear it for years until it falls apart or I find something of superior awesomeness. Rinse and repeat.

During the last relationship-I-should-never-have-been-in, I was constantly getting disparaged and sneered at for not dressing up nicely like the Eastern European women you see pushing strollers through town, or making a proper effort like the trendy women that you see strutting around Camden and Brick Lane. “Go fuck yourself, I’m outta here.” should have been what I said. I didn’t say that. I ended out wearing different clothes – skinny jeans, branded tops, women’s boots – to try and regain some modicum of respect, regard and interest from my partner. Because THAT always works, huh people? All that happened was that I further lost myself and got even more crushed under his boot heels by trying to conform to someone else’s idea of what I should be like.

I am never, ever doing that again. I don’t like skinny jeans, or having my hair in a bun, or dresses, or painful women’s shoes, or whatever bullshit some nutjob clothes designer has decided is suddenly the thing to wear this season. Sorry pal, I’m not playing.

There are a few things that I have always gravitated towards; black, red, black AND red, black and red STRIPES…

Red and Black Stripes

8 1/2 year old me. A leopard never changes it’s spots… or stripes…

…otherwise muted colours, big shoes, baggy jeans. My ‘style’, if you can call it that, is comfortable, low maintenance, and cheap. I would like to say that it’s practical because of my over-fondness of massive pockets, but if you’d ever seen me hopping about in the rain to avoid absorbing my own body-weight in puddle water into my trousers, you’d understand why I avoid that claim.

One thing my style is NOT, however, is flattering. I have become less and less interested in putting myself on display as the years have gone past. I feel no obligation to wear anything that shows off my lady-parts, or even wear ‘women’s’ clothes at all. Like everything in my life these days, I know how to play the game, I just choose not to. As I go about my business, thousands of people might look at me and turn their nose up, or not even register me at all…

Good.

They are not the people that I am interested in. I am interested in the folks that see the scruffy, baggy jeans that haven’t been ‘on trend’ for a decade or two, who see the unkempt hair that I obviously haven’t done anything with since I got out of bed, and don’t care. I am interested in the people who look at my t-shirt and think, “She likes Brand New! Awesome!”

It’s taken me many, many years to properly get on board with the idea that I am fucking brilliant, precisely the way I am. I am aware that it means I will probably spend the rest of my life batting back questions about my choices, but that’s totally cool. Let’s be honest – who doesn’t?

[Brand New really are excellent, by the way.]

What does it mean to be a woman? Actually, whatever the fuck you like.

For a long time, I called myself a misogynist because I thought I didn’t like women.

What I have come to realise through age, experience and also a lot of the work done by institutions such as the Everyday Sexism Project and Upworthy, is that actually what I don’t like is what everyone has always told me it is to be a woman.

Pirate 3

In the nicest possible way, deal with it.

I was born female, and I identify as female, therefore having reached the tender age of 36, I am officially a woman. I haven’t always been comfortable with that title though, because it didn’t feel right. What wasn’t right about it however, was what other people expected ‘woman’ to mean.

I have never been ‘ladylike’. I have always walked like my father, because Genetics. I have always sat with my knees apart, because that’s comfortable. I have always slouched, because my back is twisted. I have never fought against what I am naturally inclined to do for the sake of what other people might think…much to my mother’s chagrin in my teens.

Say hello to 15 year old me. I fucking LOVE this picture.

…and say hello to 15 year old me. I fucking LOVE this picture.

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Before I started making choices…

 

 

I have always found a certain twisted joy in challenging peoples expectations. “You look like a boy!” Not a boy, deal with it. “You look like a lesbian!” Not a lesbian, deal with it. “You look surly and aggressive!” Happy motherfucker right here, deal with it.

I have always liked tinkering with gadgets and machines to see how they work. I also like making and building things as solutions to problems around the house. I like to approach things in a practical and logical way. I used to call that collecting Man Badges, since those things were all traditionally viewed as male activities, but the truth is I just like Fixing Shit. Making Stuff Better is one of my strengths and I would go as far as to say, my primary calling in life.

I have an intense dislike of going shopping, because there are too many factors beyond my control; the people that I don’t know who I am forced to come into contact with, the soulless music that assaults my ears, the weird array of smells that I have to breathe in, not to mention the ghastly array of shit that people are told that they need. I already have all the clothes I need, and anything else I can buy online.

This has been known to upset people.

This has been known to upset people.

Speaking of clothes, my wardrobe has remained largely unchanged over the last 10 years. The reason? I liked what I wore then and I still like it now. I have no interest in what anyone else is choosing to put on their bodies, other than to raise the occasional eyebrow at an outfit that I suspect someone is going to regret wearing in a year’s time.

I don’t wear fitted tops, I prefer to wear baggy slogan or band t-shirts. When people look at me, what I want is for them to notice is that I like Firefly or Korn, not for them to just look at my tits.

It's not about the tits, people.

It’s not about the bewbs, people.

I also wear big baggy jeans because they are comfortable, and I like the shape of them. Similar to the t-shirts, I wear them to be a beacon to others of my kind, because that is way more important to me than wanting to outline my sweet ass in clinging denim. And I DO have a sweet ass, just so you know.

I don’t like handbags because for my purposes they are utterly impractical; I prefer pockets for their simplicity, and besides – whoever thought it was a good idea to put all of your important shit in one easy-to-steal container?

As a rule, I end out buying men’s clothes because  – in the UK at least – I am reasonably tall and men’s clothes fit me better. Also because manufacturers don’t insist on sewing sparkly shit and DETAILS onto men’s clothes. It’s completely unnecessary and utterly infuriating on the odd occasions that I am forced to shop in the women’s section.

I love to travel, and I prefer to travel alone [on a side note, I’ve been told that’s brave; it shouldn’t be fucking brave, it should just be a choice.]. It’s a point of pride that I only ever take a rucksack, and never check a bag when I fly because 1) it’s way easier, and 2) it challenges the perception that I am supposed to travel with three suitcases because I have a vagina.

All of that said…

I made this.

I made this.

I like to draw in pencil, and paint in acrylic. I like to knit and create things for people. I like to make sock puppets. I like to grow flowers and vegetables. I like to make costumes. I like to cook roast dinners. I like to make the world a better place for future generations. My heart breaks easily when I see the pain of others and I will defend the rights of children to the death.

I didn't make this, sadly.

I didn’t make THIS… sadly.

I like to drink vast quantities of beer and laugh at my own farts. I like obnoxious humour and children’s cartoons. I like loud, primal, aggressive music. I like to play computer games and immerse myself in Sci-Fi and fantasy. I love graphic novels and comics. I don’t like or want children of my own. I couldn’t give a rat’s arse what the rest of the world is up to.

I like kittens and bunnies and baby otters.

I like dragons and robots and demons.

I am gentle, I am supportive and I am kind.

I am bold, I am fierce and I am fearless.

I am EXACTLY what a woman should be – ME.